Dr George Chapman AO is a fourth generation North Queenslander who has made outstanding contributions to business, tourism, and the community both in North Queensland and nationally for over 50 years.
Growing up on the family farm in the small mining town of Mount Molloy, George developed a love of Far North Queensland which has been the foundation for his life’s work.
Excelling at mathematics, George clerked for his bookmaker father at the race tracks, in the process learning much about human nature and how to manage risk. Following graduation from university as a surveyor, he established a substantial practice in Cairns. This was then used as a springboard to undertake his own private developments. The most notable of these is the iconic Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which took seven years to be approved and a further seven years to erect.
Without George’s steadfast determination and his inherent well-spring of diplomacy, approval would never have been obtained nor the project completed. He had to negotiate the 1989 pilots’ dispute, World Heritage listing of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, protracted demonstrations, The Native Title Act, and a change of the State Government after 32 years. Skyrail has become the most environmentally friendly cableway in the world, allowing more than 12 million tourists to view and appreciate the Barron Gorge National Park.
As a result of its successful operation of Skyrail, the Chapman Group has won contracts to operate cableways around the world. Significantly, the Chapman Group was appointed by the Mass Transit Railway to operate the cableway from Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong to destinations on Lantau Island, with five times the carrying capacity of Skyrail.
George’s extensive business interests extend to land sub-division, commercial and residential construction, and aquaculture. His visionary role in the establishment of Cairns International Airport, through which more than 600 000 passengers pass annually, is regarded by many as George’s greatest achievement.
As national Chairman of the Ten Network and UniTAB, George presided over eras of strong growth and significant commercial success for those companies. He has also made a distinguished contribution to not-for-profit enterprises and is as widely acclaimed for his contributions to the community as to business. George Chapman AO is a remarkable Queenslander who, from a Far North Queensland base, has left an indelible mark on his State and nation.